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When a map is not a map...

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Paris, France
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6,833 posts
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When a map is not a map...

So yesterday, while dragging my groceries down the street, I overheard an older American couple arguing about which way they should go to find their hotel. They were waving around one of those free maps from Printemps, and since they were blocking the sidewalk and my ice cream was melting, I decided to help them.

For anyone who doesn't know, free maps are pretty much OK if you want a general idea of where big things are (monuments, the river, etc), but are useless if you are looking for a lot of the less-important streets, etc. If you've never been here before, they are really a huge waste of your time.

This couple was jet-lagged, had been hauling luggage around in circles, had stopped for a couple of glasses of wine, then proceeded to have a meltdown on the sidewalk. I asked them where they wanted to go, assured them that the street they wanted was not on their map but was only a couple of blocks away and easy to find. Maybe it was the circumstances, but they didn't believe me until I pulled out my ever-present map book and showed them.

After some more arguing and re-assurance, I made sure they were headed the right way, then went home to eat ice cream for dinner.

Folks - especially first-time visitors to Paris - don't let this happen to you. Get yourselves a decent map and avoid headaches and meltdowns. If you will be planning to do a lot of walking, it will save you lots of time and energy - and you'll have a whole lot more of that left over for drinking wine or eating unmelted ice cream...

This is the book I use, the one I wish I owned stock in, and the one most people find the easiest to use. You can order the current edition online from www.massin.fr if you want to study up before your trip, or they are available in most newstands in Paris for 5 to 8 EU. Massin.fr has a free shipping code, maybe someone knows the newest one?

Paris Pratique, par Arrondissement - L'Indispensable

(there are other similar books available, but I find they lack a lot of information or are not laid out as conveniently as L'Indispensable)

There is a companion bus booklet, which is great for anyone who will be spending lots of time on the bus. Each bus line is listed on a 2-page spread, including a city map showing the route through different arrondissements, a more detailed street map as well as a list of all the stops in order as they occur going in each direction.

Le Bus Parisien, Repertoire des 109 lignes - L'Indispensable

Avoid meltdowns, and help me avoid having to eat melted ice cream for dinner!

Paris, France
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1. Re: When a map is not a map...

The free shipping code for Massin is: LIVRAISON14

I just tried,and it's still valid.

Great info Patty. I love having ice cream for dinner!

Boston...
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2. Re: When a map is not a map...

I always have my L'Indispensable with me when in Paris. It really is indispensable.

The only problem is, so many pages are coming out from overuse, I'm going to have to replace the darned thing.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: When a map is not a map...

Ice cream for dinner! What flavour?

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: When a map is not a map...

Thanks Patty and F1... just bought one with free shipping to Canada using the code. I have several now old and frayed maps and map books of Paris so this one will be an upgrade.

Our last trip I was approached 3 times and asked for directions... twice by Americans but once by a French couple. All were pulling suitcases so I was comfortable with engaging with them. By good luck, I knew which way to send the people each time. ;^)

Asheville, North...
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5. Re: When a map is not a map...

I like their 3 Plans Par Arrondissement book, three maps of each; one for metro, one for buses and one just of the streets. I've used it so much I had to tape up during our most recent trip. I also had to buy a pocket magnifying glass before we left home to read some of the detail (aging eyes). I saw the bus book Patty mentions and as much as we rode the buses might consider getting it next trip.

I can't get salted butter caramel ice cream here in Asheville, so I guess I'll have eggs for breakfast. :-(

Edited: 31 May 2014, 14:22
Tucson, Arizona
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6. Re: When a map is not a map...

I, too, carry that book with me whenever I am in Paris. Those with eyes of a certain age will likely also need a magnifier to better see the maps.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: When a map is not a map...

We get the best salted caramel ice cream here in .vancouver from a boutique maker and beautifully bottled n a mason jar. Worth every calorie!

San Francisco...
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8. Re: When a map is not a map...

It is mind-boggling how many people will gladly pop for an 8€ glass of wine or hot chocolate at a cafe but rebel from spending the same for a decent map. Thanks for telling it, Patty.

Waterloo, Belgium
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9. Re: When a map is not a map...

they didn't believe me until I pulled out my ever-present map book and showed them

That when I realize that you are a better person than me Patty : last time I offered to help someone and got a rebuke, I told them 'suits me fine, have a good day' and left.

Probably because I don't like icecream. A quiche maybe ?

Saratoga Springs, NY
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10. Re: When a map is not a map...

Another great post!

I have the 3 plans, but I still get confused by their bus maps, so I may spring for the bus book :-)